Walk The Darkness Down, by John Boden

silenthillgirl's review

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This book is beautifully written. It is dark and brutal yet poetic. I actually cared about the characters, especially Jubal.

Levi is a vile man. John Boden managed to create a character that does horrible, fucked up things and yet he is someone you can sympathize with at the same time because of what he's been through. I highly recommend Walk the Darkness Down!

aghoststory's review

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A gal never forgets her first western.

Walk the Darkness Down seems to live in-universe that is thick and covered in a haze and bad vibes. It is truly a story unlike any I have read before. It’s bloody and magnificent. In under two hundred words, Boden was able to create a wonderous slow burn while kicking the dust-up with strong, unique characters and moments that will make your skin crawl and gasp out loud.

There are so many things about this story that I enjoyed, but of course, I have to talk the brilliant characters. Levi is the worst. In the book, he is described as something from a bad dream. He is pure evil but the kind of evil that you cannot help but love. You never know what he is going to do, but you know that it is going to be dramatic and bloody. Y'all, it is seriously twisted. Keaton and Jubal are two loners just trying to survive when they first meet. I grew so attached to them. Jones is out for revenge when he finds someone who changes his heart. The unlikely friendships that slithered its way into the story were so wonderful, and a great reminder that sometimes you meet people when you need it.

Boden’s writing quickly became a favorite of mine. His words are so rich and flow with such ease. From the beginning, you can just feel that something underlining is happening. There is a kind of mysticism hovering over the words. Truth be told, I was not aware that there was a whole sub-genre for this feeling, and I am hungry for more.

Walk the Darkness Down is a weird, fantastic book. While there is so much brilliantly written gore, I found that it has so many more elements in it that are touching and real. I could not recommend this book more.

*Thank you to the author, John Boden, for sending a copy of the book for review!*

theboldbookworm's review against another edition

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I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

I have never read a western before let alone a weird horror western and I honestly wasn't sure if I would enjoy one, but this book was amazing!

Walk the Darkness Down is about four main characters, Levi, Keaton, Jones, and Jubal. Levi is a changed man and really puts the horror in horrific. Keaton is looking for a place to settle down. Jubal is an orphan whose mother died giving birth to his sisters. Jones is looking for the man who killed his mother so he can get revenge. The story is told in alternating chapters and some of the characters eventually meet up. There are things along the way for each of them that are terrible and heartbreaking. I don't want to go into very much detail about the plot because it's a slim volume, but it is gory and graphic and feels like all the detail of a full-length novel is packed into this novella.

The writing is absolutely beautiful and the first sentence grabbed me and never let go. There is a sentence on page 10 that reads, "The swelter of words, the boil and scald of them, were the only gift he'd ever been given." John Boden was definitely given the gift of words. His words were gently caressing me one moment and tearing my heart out the next. I am not a visual reader in that I don't see a book in my mind while I read so when things are described so well and in such great detail, it makes for an immersive reading experience for me. The book started out with a bang and so many things happened along the way. I was a little worried at the end that there wasn't enough time to finish well, but I think the book definitely had a good and well-rounded finish. I cannot even fathom how Boden fit everything that happened with such rich detail into a mere 153 pages. You will want to spend some time with this book reading some of the lines over and over again because that's how eloquent the writing is.

I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone who likes horror.

thomaswjoyce's review

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The idea of a "Weird" Western is a new concept to me, but it appears to be gathering steam, especially in the Horror small presses. Marrying the gritty, dusty setting of the Wild West story (complete with a hero/antihero and strong characters) with a strange and almost inexplicable series of events seems like a recipe for success. But I suppose in the hands of a lesser author it may not work so well. Thankfully, John Boden seems to be a natural storyteller, as he guides us through this weird, wonderful, horrific landscape.

It begins with a young boy named Levi, and the creation of a monster. Levi certainly isn't the cause of the horror; he is merely a pawn in a (cosmically) larger game. The scenes throughout the book involving the monster are some of the creepiest and goriest in the book and they aren't vague; there is evil here, the worst that you could probably imagine.
But there are also heroes, of a sort. Jones seems to be the most typically heroic of the three, seemingly pure of heart. Then there is Keaton, a drifter and an outlaw, more of a grey area, but no less likeable. Third is Jubal, a simple young man who carries his twin sisters in a sling around his neck. His origin and that of his sisters adds another very strange string to the bow of the story, and is best left to the reader's discovery.

Something otherworldly and more familiar to fans of Lovecraft and cosmic horror appears to be directing the action. Levi wanders from town to town, spreading death and chaos everywhere he goes. Jones, Keaton and Jubal are drawn together and set on a collision course with Levi, hopefully to put an end to the horror.

Boden's writing seems suited to this setting and these characters. Outside of the main players, there are wonderful interactions with the likes of Ford and Kellianne. And the conversations between Jones and Keaton are especially entertaining. He does that magical thing that all great storytellers do, whereby he tells a great story, but also hints at a greater story just beneath or behind, or within the words on the page. The story of what happened to Keaton before this story began, or the history of Ford and Kellianne's relationship, or the true nature of Jubal's sisters, or the terrible truth about what lies beyond the cosmic door, and whether or not they crossed the threshold.

I hope there is more to come from this world that John Boden has created. I'm here for future installments and I know I'm not alone.

motherhorror's review

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Oh you authors of dark, disturbing things how I love when you write weird, Western crossovers.

This story is 154 pages long but it still took me 4 days to finish because this thing is narrated to the hilt. Boden's language here is rich and sticky--almost chewy--the words lifted off the page and my mind was not content to let them filter through like wanted to really meditate on the descriptions, the dialog, the phrases, and sayings.
I didn't want to miss anything by reading too fast. In fact, my copy has a personal warning from the author that reads,
Walk it Slowly..."
So I did. I took my time with it. Each chapter follows any of the protagonists: Jones, Keaton, Jubal, or a combination of those three.
Or it follows our antagonist: Levi.
Never before have you read a villain like this. Truly, I had to steel myself for his chapters. Every time I saw a heading with his name, I would take a deep breath.
Levi travels through a western landscape of small, isolated towns (with familiar names like, Lansdale or Lut's Key) leaving a wake of destruction and death.
Jones is on the hunt for the man who killed his mother. He's angry and prickly but finds himself at the home of someone who's friendship is irresistible.
Keaton is a loner who stumbles upon a depressing scene and ends up with a young traveling companion named, Jubal. Strangely enough, Jubal carries with him something alive in a little, make-shift sling.
It seems like all these wanderers are destined to cross paths at some point.
(which had a very "all things serve the beam" feel to me that I immediately grabbed ahold of and cherished. We constant readers are no stranger to destiny and fate.
We also know about thinnies- a weak spot where the fabric between worlds/realities have worn thin...and I'm not saying there is a thinny in this book or any doors to alternate universes where monsters live--but I am saying that)
I am also saying that something outside our modern understanding of things is being threatened in John Boden's western-like universe and I am saying that our three(ish) protagonists might have to come up against it.
Does all of this sound super epic and wild and outlandish to you? Because it is.
A rare opportunity for readers to fall in love with unlikely heroes engaging in an epic battle against the most formidable enemies you've ever read; both human and cosmic. I promise that once you start reading Boden's work, you'll become a junkie for it; craving his unique brand of horror that no other author can deliver. It's Boden or nobody.
Lastly, my hope is that there is more from John Boden's universe.
I would LOVE to have a series here and if not a series than just a connected universe because I will not quickly forget my time in this novella and I sure hope I can revisit my new friends.
This is a must-have if you found my recommendation intriguing.

charshorrorcorner's review

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WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN is the weirdest western horror story I've ever read. I adored it!

Starting with a young man named Levi, we travel down a dusty dirt road and meet up with Jubal, Jones and Keaton along the way, with brief stops visiting Tiny, and an aging coal miner named Ford. (I'm not even going mention the nightmares that are Jubal's sisters-I'll let you meet them on your own. Suffice it to say, I'm sure they'll be visiting my nightmares sometime soon. I just hope that when they do, they're in their dirty sling and I don't have to gaze upon their naked...faces.) Passing through towns like Gabino and finally ending up with a showdown in Lansdale, there are a bunch of literary references in here which made me smile.

Aside from Jubal's sisters, this entire novella is nightmare fuel, really. Levi's horrific treatment at the hands of his grandfather is awful, though what happens to him afterward is even worse. The lives of all mentioned in this book are tattered and torn. All of the characters are both good and bad, they have faults, they have redeeming qualities...they're just...human. In all the glory and filth that humanity embodies, there they are.

I came out of this with a distinct cosmic horror vibe, but I'm not quite sure on that. There was no outright mention of Cthulhu or anything...but,
Spoiler I think there was indication of some...cold and distant...powers that be, or perhaps powers coming (or attempting to come) into...being. To come through-and maybe not only to come through but to take over?

This isn't really a spoiler but I don't want to stain the thoughts of a new reader with ideas of my own. I sure would like to talk to somebody about it though.

I've read a lot of John Boden's work, and I'm going to say flat out right now, this is my favorite of them all. Like my second favorite, SPUNGUNION, there hasn't been too much of a buzz about it because it was published as a (beautiful!) signed, limited edition at first. (Thank you to my lovely friend Andi Rawson who gifted me a copy because she knows how much I like John Boden's work. Love you, girl!)

WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN: It's weird. It's gory. It's western. It's so much more.

It's also worthy of my highest recommendation, so now it's got that too.

Available now, here:

readswithdogs's review

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I went into this book having no clue what to think, given this premise: a man who is made of scars doing evil things and a group of misfit men in a dark Old West style parable? With a reverse werewolf? Oooookay. 

However, I trust Sadie (@mother.horror), so the fact that she loved this and I loved John Boden's writing with Chad Lutzke meant I was willing to give WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN a shot. I'm very much glad I did!

I'm not usually a Western fan, but that style really suited this particular story and John Boden is an extraordinary writer. 

As one of his characters says: 

"words [are] traps. You say too many and they'll scatter on the ground around you and trip you up, snarl your legs and lives."


Boden crafts this weird western folktale with just the right words and somehow made this slim little book (it's only just over 150 pages) pack a huge punch in the gut. I'm usually a fast reader who gets bored easily and I found myself reading WALK THE DARKNESS DOWN as slowly as I could just to take it all in and digest it. Any moment that I was worried of getting bored, something interesting would happen, like suddenly a reverse werewolf appears. The fact a lot of the places in the story and characters were named after other Indie horror authors was a fun bonus.

Levi (possibly the most grotesque character I've ever read about) is slowly making his way around destroying small towns, killing everyone that crosses his path, and consuming them one way or another. He's a massive murderous man who daydreams about choking out the Sun. He's trailed by Jones, a man bent on avenging his mother's death, Keaton, an angry loner with a heart of gold, and Jubal, an orphan teenager who knows more than he lets on and sweetly carries his younger sisters around in a sling. The way Boden describes everything in this unsettling story is enough to make you have a physical reaction--I found myself shuddering and cringing with disgust at some of the things this motley crew runs into. 


Wisdom appears on almost every page; this one line, said when enemies turn into friends, is going to stick with me for a long time:

"Grief is a hungry fuel. And it will devour anything to keep burning" 

five stars for this masterpiece

Please give it a read because it deserves all the love and doesn't fit into any one genre.

teamredmon's review

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This novel beat me up. Upon first glance, Walk The Darkness Down appears to be just like any other horror novel. The beautiful cover gives no hints to the content, and a cursory flip through the pages belies none of the glorious weirdness within. The chapters are short, many only a page or two, and with only roundabouts 150 pages, this book should have been an easy, quick read. But this book is dangerous and has a strong riptide that will pull you under. John Boden’s writing is literary quicksand, and like quicksand, it will kill you if you struggle. The only way to read Walk The Darkness Down is to go slow as hell. I regularly read 75-100 pages a day, but I struggled to get through 20 a day in this book. And let’s get this straight. That is NOT a criticism. The writing is exquisite and intense. The language that Boden uses is beautiful and he writes in a way that is unlike anything I’ve read in a long, long time. This novel is an incredible achievement, and I can think of only one book that I would compare it to, and that’s Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.

Walk The Darkness Down is the story of four people. Jones, Jubal, Keaton, and Levi. You will excuse me if I don’t give many more details because I will do them no justice. These four are in their own worlds, but the world is shrinking and bringing them together. It’s shrinking because Levi is on a mission that he describes as creating a door but amounts to destroying everything and everyone he meets. To hold my earlier comparison, Levi is like The Judge from Blood Meridian, the physical representation of evil and whose motivations are incomprehensible outside of being evil. Throughout the book, Levi burns and murders and pillages and decimates across various towns and leaves them a dead husk. As Levi burns the world, the main characters are drawn closer together, and on the way, they meet some of the more memorable characters that I’ve recently read. Keaton is on the lamb with Jubal after being accused of killing a woman and burning her house down. They are pursued by Jones, the dead woman’s son. My absolute favorite part of one of my new favorite books is Jones’ interaction with a dying man named Bob Ford and Bob’s wife, Kellianne. These are all characters you need to get to know on your own. Their journey is one that is best experienced with as little foreknowledge as possible.

Walk The Darkness Down is a masterpiece. It should be spoken of in the same breath as classics of American literature. Nothing else that I have read this year comes close to the quality of this novel. John Boden is a must-read author, and this is a must-read book. I have seen a lot of recent talk that people use the five-star rating too often. I poo-pooed that sentiment until I read this book. This one breaks my scale because right now, I want to give Walk The Darkness Down 7 stars. So, ignore the 5-star rating, this one gets 7 stars and my HIGHEST recommendation.

brennanlafaro's review

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literary_thrills's review

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I saw nothing but praise for this book but unfortunately this was REALLY not my cup of tea. I was into the writing at first and the dark western feel. Oddly enough I would’ve liked this book to be longer. I’m so used to epic tomes that the brevity of this book really jarred me. This is definitely a case of the book just not being for me, but if dark western stories with a bizarre element are something you like reading then this book will definitely work for you!